8 September 2021
Production company Like A Shot Entertainment, part of global superindie Argonon, is producing a one off documentary, Black Panthers of WW2, for UKTV's specialist factual channel Yesterday.
Premiering during Black History Month, this 60' minute special is narrated by David Harewood and will also be available on UKTV's on-demand service UKTV Play. BossaNova Media has secured the international rights and will distribute the film.
The documentary follows the story of the history-making 761st tank battalion composed of African- American servicemen, the first US armoured unit of its kind to enter combat. Their motto was 'Come Out Fighting' but these US soldiers were not only forced to confront the enemy abroad but also battle racism at home. As they battled valiantly for their country, the very democracy they were defending saw them as second-class citizens as they fought against racial segregation, in a world where Nazi prisoners of war enjoyed better rights.
The film traces their story back to their formation in a prevailing climate of segregation, and the reluctance of US high command to commit the battalion to battle. It charts their entry into combat where they served for an incredible 183 consecutive days, and their involvement in the Battle of the Bulge, as part of the Allied forces who liberated Gunskirchen. And it follows their return to America, where instead of being greeted as returning heroes, they were confronted by angry white mobs.
The programme also sheds light on the little-known Battle of Bamber Bridge in Lincolnshire, illustrating racist attitudes in the US military at the time. The segregation in the US army was not well received in the UK, and black US servicemen were welcomed by the townsfolk with whom they drank in the local pub. Violence erupted in 1943 when white US military police tried to arrest a black American GI, leading to a gun battle that raged through the night, resulting in one man being killed and a number injured.
Through reconstruction and interviews with historians, descendants and one of the last surviving Blank Panthers - Corporal Robert Andry - the programme reveals the untold story of the black servicemen who changed history.
Steve Gilham is executive producer for Like A Shot Entertainment and the director is Farrah Jaufuraully. The pre-investment deal was brokered by Daniel Thomas, Global Acquisitions Manager for UKTV and BBC Studios. Newly launched BossaNova is managing international sales.
UKTV's Daniel Thomas said:
I'm thrilled to bring this special one-off documentary to Yesterday to recognise the incredible contribution that the 761st tank battalion made to WW2.
Steve Gillham, executive producer for Like A Shot commented:
The story of the Black Panthers is one of racial injustice, extreme prejudice and striking bravery, with important lessons for modern society today. Like their heroic deeds on the field of battle, their treatment at the hands of their own compatriots should never be forgotten. We're delighted to partner with UKTV and BossaNova to take this documentary to a UK and international audience.
Paul Heaney, CEO at BossaNova added:
It's great to be working with Like A Shot again and on such a prestigious special. It's such a unique story in a familiar sub-genre so we're all hopeful it will carry a lot of appeal with the international community.
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UKTV has been at the forefront of branded television for over 25 years, entertaining the nation with programmes they love. Its leading brands - Dave, Gold, W, Drama, Alibi, Eden and Yesterday - span comedy, entertainment, natural history, factual and scripted drama, and are delivered to audiences through UKTV Play, Freeview, Sky, Virgin Media, BT, TalkTalk, YouView, Freesat and Amazon Fire. The broadcaster is a significant investor in British creativity and is committed to working with new and established writers, directors and programme-makers.
UKTV is part of BBC Studios, the UK's most-awarded production company, a world-class distributor with international branded services, and a commercial subsidiary of the world's leading public service broadcaster, the BBC.
About Like a Shot Entertainment
In the past nine years, Like A Shot Entertainment has become one of the UK's most successful production companies. Now part of Argonon, it has created hundreds of hours of programming from its UK production base for domestic and international broadcasters. It has a reputation for high quality programming in history, science and engineering genres, such as Henry VIII and the King's Men (Smithsonian), Private Lives of the Monarchs (UKTV/Smithsonian), Mysteries of the Abandoned (UKTV/Discovery), Witness to War (Quest/Discovery), Inside Secret Societies (Channel 5) and the prolific Murder Mysteries strand (UKTV/Reelz Channel).
Founded in 2011 by CEO James Burstall, Argonon is the world's first hyper-converged superindie group, producing content including The Masked Singer UK (ITV1), Worzel Gummidge (BBC One) and Dispatches (Channel 4). Headquartered in London, New York and LA with further offices in Liverpool and Glasgow, Argonon is an independent production group led by a board of creatives and entrepreneurs including James Burstall (CEO), Laura Bessell (COO) and David Dugan (Chairman, Windfall Films). The group consists of eight companies producing multi award-winning content for major broadcasters, platforms and brands in the UK, US and across the world. The companies produce content across all genres and of all lengths, specialising in factual, factual entertainment, documentaries, entertainment, drama, comedy, arts and children's programming. Argonon has won 120 awards including Emmys, BAFTAs and RTS Awards and received over 180 nominations. Argonon is made up of Leopard Pictures, Leopard USA, Windfall Films, BriteSpark Films, Bandicoot, Like A Shot, Studio Leo and Nemorin. Clients include BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Sky, Discovery, Nat Geo, Facebook Watch, PBS, HGTV, A&E, UKTV, Credit Suisse, American Express, McDonald's, Hugo Boss, My Single Friend and Nationwide.